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Avoiding the Rebellion of Korah

While the story of Cain killing his brother may be commonly known, the rebellion of Korah is quite obscure.

Korah was from the tribe of Levi; he and the other Levites were assigned God-given tasks to serve in the temple; they were set apart for this. However, they were not to serve as priests; that fell only to Aaron and his descendants.

Korah didn’t like these distinctions. He advocated that all people were holy, had God (the Holy Spirit) in them, and should be elevated to the level of priests. 

(Interestingly, these were something that Jesus would later proclaim and that his followers would embrace, but in Korah’s time this was not the case. There were distinctions and that’s how God wanted it at that time.)

Korah stirred up some followers, insisting on equal status for all. Then he and Moses had the equivalent of a modern-day smackdown. Moses won and was affirmed by God. Korah lost—big time. The ground beneath him opened up and he and his family fell in and died. God squashed the rebellion of Korah.

Today, we would hail Korah as a martyred reformer who pursued justice and equality, advocating that anyone can approach God.

Although Jesus would later usher in these changes, those were not the expectations God had put in place in Korah’s day. God had a different plan then, and, no matter how well intended, Korah opposed it. He will forever be associated with a failed uprising against God: the rebellion of Korah.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Numbers 16-18, and today’s post is on Numbers 16.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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What is the Error of Balaam?

We Will Do Well to Consider Balance Error So We Can Avoid It

As mentioned in the book of Jude (Jude 1:11), we’ve covered Cain’s path and Korah’s rebellion. Now we’ll address the error of Balaam.

Frankly, I’m perplexed as to what Balaam’s error was. In reading his story in Numbers, I see a man who affirmed God as “my God,” heard God’s voice, and obeyed God’s instructions. Indeed, Balaam has a better track record than I do.

Balaam Obeyed God

God told Balaam to not go and he stayed. Then God told him to go and he went—but God was angry because he did. Based on this, it wouldn’t be a stretch to conclude that God was bipolar. However, I reject that diagnosis as being inconsistent with God’s character.

Instead we must seek a different explanation.

Don’t Ask God Twice

I wonder if the first time that God said “no” should have been enough. Balaam had no need to ask again—unless he didn’t like the first answer. 

This might be like kids pestering their folks for something. Eventually the parents relent, not because they changed their mind, but because they want to teach their offspring a lesson about making good choices or learn what happens when they select bad paths.

Another consideration is the implication that Balaam was mixing his pursuit of God with divination, a practice the Bible forbids. Is this the error of Balaam?

This is a common practice today, where practitioners cherry-pick the choice parts of various religions or philosophies, forming their own belief system. Is there any expectation that their outcome will be different from Balaam’s? We will do well to consider this.

We need to carefully consider the error of Balaam to make sure we don’t repeat it. Click To Tweet

The End of Balaam

What happens to Balaam after this passage?

We don’t hear about him for a while, but when Joshua leads the people to take the land God promised them, we read that Balaam is among the casualties. We don’t know if he dies in battle or if they executed him later, but the book of Joshua says the Israelites put the sword to Balaam.

It adds that he practiced divination, perhaps explaining the reason for his death (Joshua 13:22).

We need to carefully consider the error of Balaam to make sure we don’t repeat it.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Numbers 22-24, and today’s post is on Numbers 22:12.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Ungodly Men in the Church

Ungodly Men in the Church

The book of Jude—which I’ve blogged about quite a bit—addresses ungodly men in the church, not those outside the church.

Jude’s key passage is verse 11, where he compares ungodly men in the church to Cain, Balaam, and Korah.

Do not control sin, mix different religious ideas, and oppose God’s leaders. Click To Tweet

It’s noteworthy that each of these men has an overlooked connection with God, as do ungodly men in the church. Despite this, it’s their failings for which they are noted. But even in these, we may be looking at things too simplistically. Upon deeper consideration:

These examples give us pause. The ungodly in the church: do not control sin, mix different religious ideas, and oppose God’s leaders.

Given this, we have much to guard against, less we become the very people in the church that Jude warns us against.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Who Were the Sons of Korah?

Who Were the Sons of Korah?

Several of the Psalms are attributed to “the sons of Korah.”

These sons of Korah could have been the writers of those songs/prayers or perhaps the ones tasked with sharing them with others; that would effectively make them performers.

It makes me wonder if the group called “The Sons of Korah” ever performed to standing-room-only crowds at the temple gates.

Pushing my imagination aside, I wonder, who were the sons of Korah?

There are at least two guys named Korah in the Bible, possibly more depending on how the various references are reconciled. So the sons of Korah could have hailed from one of them—or a different, unknown Korah.

Though it is strictly speculation on my part, I want these sons of Korah to be descendants of Korah, the rebellious one, mentioned in Numbers 16. Korah was killed for his rebellion, as were the men who followed him and the families of his co-conspirators.

However, Korah’s children are not explicitly mentioned as being killed or as surviving.

I want to think they did live and their offspring would write or perform songs and prayers to God.

That is a legacy worth noting.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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More on Korah’s Rebellion

More on Korah’s Rebellion

Last year in my post on Korah’s rebellion, I noted that Korah had some progressive ideas about God and the people’s relationship to him. While these views are widely accepted today (thanks to Jesus), they were quite radical in Korah’s day.

However, I don’t think that Korah’s rebellion was theological in nature, that is, it was not about beliefs and doctrine, about what is right and what is wrong.

Korah’s rebellion was against Moses, God’s chosen leader, and therefore it was against God himself.

Korah arguably had the right ideas, but he was wrong in opposing God’s leader in order to promote his progressive perspectives.

Korah’s error was in disrespecting God’s ordained leadership—an error we need to carefully guard against.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Numbers 16-18, and today’s post is on Numbers 16.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Cain, Balaam, and Korah

Cain, Balaam, and Korah

In Jude’s brief exposition of ungodly people in the church, he evokes three Old Testament characters: Cain, Balaam, and Korah. Cain, we know to be a murderer; Balaam, greedy; and Korah, rebellious. 

However, it is simplistic to see them merely as evil men, for they also had an air of godliness to them, seeking God or having a connection to him.

It is astonishing, but each of these men did things that were seemingly right and godly. Despite that, the results of their actions went badly awry. The outcome renders them as emblematic of ungodly people in the church.

As we study what they did, we might find that we may be a lot closer to falling into their errors than we would normally dare to think possible.

Carefully consider then, the lives of Cain, Balaam, and Korah.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is from Philemon and Jude, and today’s post is on Jude 1:11.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Biblical References in Jude

Biblical References in Jude

As covered a few weeks ago, the book of Jude contains three cryptic references to ancient non-biblical texts. In addition, Jude also includes references to biblical accounts.

The first is in verse 6, where Jude mentions angels who abandoned their role and their home. This is likely a nod to Genesis 6:1-4, which talks about the son’s of God marrying the daughters of man. That is a bit perplexing itself, but at least it is the Bible.

Alternately, some scholars think Jude is referring to an ancient non-biblical text, The Book of Enoch. I opt for Genesis 6.

Another non-biblical reference is found in verse 17-18. Here Jude cites other apostles who warn that in the last days there will be scoffers who follow ungodly desires.

Although the New Testament of the Bible did not exist at the time of Jude’s writing, he may have been privy to Paul’s and Peter’s letters or more likely, he simply heard them—or heard of them—issuing this warning.

Jude’s words are recorded almost verbatim by Peter in 2 Peter 3:3, as well as being alluded to in 2 Peter 2:1-3. Likewise, Paul, in his letters to Timothy, covers this theme in 1 Timothy 4:1; 2 Timothy 3:1-5, and 2 Timothy 4:3-4.

Last, and perhaps most significant, reference to CainBalaam, and, Korah, which I will address in future posts.

Jude was certainly well-read and well-informed, peppering his letters with many references and illustrations. Though they would have been helpful to his audience then, that is not so much the case today. Even so, Jude’s central warning to guard against ungodly people in the church is well founded—and timeless.

[Jude 1:6, Genesis 6:1-4, Jude 1:17-18, 2 Peter 3:32 Peter 2:1-3, Timothy references]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.